Intended for healthcare professionals


Measures to improve underfunding are central to Scottish election health policies

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 01 May 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1166

Next week (6 May) the people of Scotland will elect the politicians who will form the country's first parliament in 300 years. Health will be one of the new parliament's main responsibilities. How do the main parties plan to address health related issues? Bryan Christie reports

Scottish Conservative Party

The Conservatives want to place primary care firmly in the driving seat of the NHS. Their plans are the most radical of the four main parties and would involve the Scottish Parliament taking over responsibility for strategic planning and the allocation of resources. Health boards, primary care trusts, and GP cooperatives would all be abolished by the Conservatives who want to return to a form of fundholding. One of the other changes that the party is proposing is the appointment of “modern matrons” in hospitals to help create visible leaders on wards to whom patients could go with any problems.

The Conservative health spokeswoman is Dr Kate Pickering, a GP in Glasgow. She said that bureaucracy in the NHS had been increased in Scotland, rather than reduced, as a result of the creation of primary care trusts and GP cooperatives.

“We want to put budgets back near where patients are, and we think that by doing that we are allowing patients and the primary care set up to drive the NHS.” She said that there is no enthusiasm among doctors for the current set of reforms, which offer little for patients. Extra services which had been provided under fundholding were now disappearing, along with the influence that GPs had been able to exert on behalf of their patients. “There is no urgency now,” she said. “It used to take three to four weeks for an ultrasound; now it is 19 weeks. We want to put primary care back in charge and put patients first.” …

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